The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a double, concept album focusing on a protagonist dealing (like Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles) with mental illness. Stickles has been actively working on TMLT for about the last 4 years, but in many ways the album has been foreshadowed (both thematically and musically) for the band’s entire existence.
Lyrically, TMLT is dark and beautiful, despairing and hopeful, and will move many to tears. Divided into 5 parts, the lyrics follow the unnamed person through all the ups and downs of manic depression: Breakdown, treatment, prescriptions, the highs and lows that still affect everything you do, and how to connect with your loved ones who, despite their best efforts, can’t begin to understand what you’re going through. Mostly, though, the album is about the internal war between a person and himself, and this war does not have a happy ending.
Musically, however, TMLT is everything expected from Titus Andronicus and then some. There are bar room rockers highlighted by. “Mr. E. Mann” and “Fatal Flaw,” and there are punk bangers like “Dimed Out” and “(S)He Said, (S)He Said.” Most interestingly, though, the sound throughout TMLT has been fleshed out with strings arranged by the fantastic Owen Pallett. This addition to the band’s sound allows them to create the closest thing to a pop, love song they’ve ever released in “Come On, Siobhán.” Finally, there are the usual sprawling tracks like “More Perfect Union” that combine all these threads and even throw in some Irish pub song for good measure.
On the whole, TMLT may not be Titus Andronicus’ best album (that title likely still belongs to The Monitor), but it is easily their most important and will be the album for which they are remembered. Put quite simply, if this is what Titus Andronicus has been building towards, it’s a more than worthy capstone to their career no matter where they go from here.
In the past, labels have tried to rein in mixtape artists in order to create records with something for everyone regardless of whether the artist is capable of changing styles. On their debut LP, however, Migos sound exactly like they have on the tapes that got them signed in the first place, and this is a very good thing. Yung Rich Nation finds the trio still trading both verses and bars, still coming up with one or two word hooks and repeating them until you can’t get them out of your head (people are going to love yelling “bachelor” and “spray the champagne”), and still going in hard as hell. The only real difference between YRN and the earlier mixtapes is the production. It feels sparser here and does a great job adding to the group’s flow without overwhelming it. The combination is excellent and makes for a really fun listen.
A part of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, Gunplay has been a go-to guy for unhinged, violent features for the better part of a decade, but despite repeated false starts he has never released a solo LP. In fact, it got to a point where the general consensus was that any LP that did finally come out would be less than stellar, so the expectations for Living Legend were incredibly low. Happily, the expectations for its follow up will be much higher. Lyrically Living Legend is hardcore gangsta rap through-and-through, and Gunplay’s flow is redlined to such an extent you get the feeling his life depends on getting these verses out as fast and loud as possible. That flow is backed by a bass heavy production (other than the G-Funk of “Wuzhanindoe feat. YG”) that adds to the album’s dark, street feel. Living Legend isn’t likely to win any awards, but hip hop fans will be very happy with it.
An author and editor at MiG, Craig lives in Minnesota with his wife and son and is an attorney in his real life. Once upon a time Craig played the trumpet and spent four years in the Hawkeye Marching Band and pep band. These days Craig finds himself most often listening to experimental rock, hip hop, and post punk, but you can see everything he's listening to at: www.last.fm/user/cafreema Craig is not ashamed to admit the first concert he ever attended was New Kids on the Block.
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